I used to be able to buy a glass ( or bottle) of wine without a care in the world – especially for those who toiled to fill that glass or bottle.
In the relatively short time we have been the proud new parents of our vineyard in paradise, we have had more sleepless nights , stress and worry than any of our collective three offspring ever brought us.
Don’t get me wrong. Like actual new parents, we love it. We are bursting with pride, we tell anyone who stands still long enough all about it and like childbirth, you forget the pain quickly as you appreciate the benefits!
However, it’s hard. Not really on us, but those that are helping us make decisions to ensure the best harvest brings the best quality grapes to make the best quality wine.
Yesterday was the green cut or final thinning ; the time you take out a varying quantity of grapes, depending on what mother nature has thrown at this particular vintage. Certain weather conditions will bring greater numbers of bunches per vine and heavier weights of bunches. All of this is critical to the winemaker to ensure they get the best product for them to weave their magic in the winemaking process.
Now it may be my Scottish blood, but I’m no fan of waste. Seeing beautiful grapes ( that taste sensational!) lying disregarded – even if for the ultimate sacrifice – made me sad but then, more positively, start looking for ways we could use them.
We’re not alone, a quick drive around our neighbourhood shows all of the quality vineyards doing the same thing in their quest for the perfect vintage.
I spent part of the day collecting the disregarded bunches and distributing them to family and friends ( funnily enough not as much of a novelty for them in this wine region, as it would have been in Auckland…!).
So, thoughts turn from verjuice ( see previous blog on this recipe for unripe grapes) to delicious grape juice from sun kissed grapes that make some of the most stunning pinot noir in New Zealand. I have added it to my growing list of ‘things to produce’ and will share in due course.
Of course there is always a silver lining – the birds are happy and hopefully may leave our netted precious bounty alone, but for me it’s another lesson of the fragility of being in the hands of nature and therefore the need to be nimble enough to make hay ( or grape juice) while the sun shines.